Recalling a member of the House of Representatives
A recall is the process through which a validly elected member of the House of Representatives may be removed from his/her seat in the House. It is a voting process where the electorate decide via a referendum (a yes or no vote) whether they want the House of Representatives member to remain for the rest of his/her term or whether he/she should be recalled. The process for recalling a member of the House of Representatives is contained in Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution.
The process to recall a member of the House of Representatives is started once the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives a petition signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that House of Representatives member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in the individual.
The petition must be signed, and arranged according to polling units, wards, Local Government Areas, and constituency.
If the petition is valid, the Commission will proceed to:
- Notify the member of the House of Representatives sought to be recalled, stating that it has received a petition for his/her recall
- Then issue a public notice or announcement stating the date, time and location of the verification
- Verify the signatures to the petition at the designation. The signatories must be individuals who appear on the electoral voters’ register.
- Write to the petitioners stating that the minimum requirements for a referendum where not met, if the number verified is less than one half of the registered voters in that constituency. The petition will therefore be dismissed.
- Conduct a referendum if more than one half (50% + 1) of the signatories are verified
If the minimum requirements for a referendum are met, the INEC must then conduct a referendum within 90 days of receipt of the petition. The referendum will be a simple yes or no vote on whether the member of the House of Representatives should be recalled, and will be decided by simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.
If a referendum is carried out and the voters in that constituency vote to recall the individual, then the Chairman of the INEC is obliged to send a Certificate of Recall to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to effect the recall.
Obviously, the process for recalling a member of the House of Representatives seems a bit complex and by design needs a lot of organization and mass mobilization, and maybe that is why there has not been any documented case of a successful recall of an elected member of the Federal legislature in Nigeria since the passing of the 1999 Constitution.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.